Basalt’s Dallenbach third in latest Pikes Peak hill climb, eyes finish at 100th race
Testing didn’t go so well for Paul Dallenbach. The racecar just didn’t have much punch and getting up the mountain was taking far too long.
No problem for a veteran driver like Basalt’s Dallenbach. With a few tweaks by his team, he managed to take down the qualifying record and finish a solid third overall in the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on June 27.
“We did two weekends of testing up on the hill and we were really pretty slow and pretty far off. And the car was just not that good and I was getting wheel spin in fourth gear,” Dallenbach said earlier this week. “It was very slippery and we just didn’t have the right setup on the car. Going into the weekend, we made a lot of changes. We ended up being the fastest qualifier overall, which was a surprise. So we really got the car dialed in.”
The Pikes Peak race has always been one of Dallenbach’s favorites. It’s traditionally a 12.42-mile time trial with a finish line located at more than 14,000 feet on top of Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs. Internationally speaking, it’s one of the biggest races of its kind in the world and attracts racers from all over the globe.
Despite being around for nearly a century, it still remains somewhat under the radar in the U.S.
“Pikes Peak is so big around the world. Not so much here,” Dallenbach said. “And it’s sad that it gets overlooked mostly in the United States. Because when you go international, it’s just huge. That’s not why I do it, but it sure gives you a little boost.”
Dallenbach, who is part of the famed racing family led by his father, Wally Dallenbach Sr., has been a mainstay at the Pikes Peak race for about three decades. He’s held many records on the track and has won the race, both overall and in the open wheel division, multiple times over.
This year’s race wasn’t for the records, as a layer of ice on top of the mountain forced organizers to shorten the course on race day. Still, it made for good racing, even with a bit of fog making visibility difficult at times. Dallenbach, driving his custom 2006 PVA-003 Dallenbach Special, won the open wheel division with a time of 6 minutes, 35.663 seconds.
He was less than four seconds back of runner-up Romain Dumas, the Frenchman who holds the overall course record, and his 2019 Porsche 911 GT2RS. California’s Robin Shute took the overall title this year with his 2018 Wolf GB08 TSC-LT in 5:55.246.
“I was totally happy with winning the class and breaking the qualifying record and doing that. It just motivates you for next year,” Dallenbach said. “There are much more modern and up-to-date cars that are lighter that can beat me. But we ended up finishing third overall, just a couple seconds off of second overall, and I would have had second overall if I didn’t hit a fog bank up at the top, which I was one of only two cars that did. It kind of slowed me down a little bit.”
Speaking of next year, that will be a big one for both Dallenbach and for the race. This summer marked the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, making the 2022 race No. 100. There’s already talk of making quite the spectacle out of next year’s event on Pikes Peak, and Dallenbach sees it as possibly his last time racing, at least in his own car. Well, that’s what he’s told his wife at this point, but those race-day feelings might make it difficult to throw in the towel.
Dallenbach did say he thinks he can still cut about 15 seconds off his time and possibly reclaim the course’s overall record. This provides him with “that carrot out there … it motivates you.”
“If I was ever to come back, I think it would be if a manufacturer like Audi, or somebody like that, called me and wanted me to race their car up there. But I think 11 wins now, the risk versus reward, it doesn’t make sense,” said Dallenbach, who will be 55 by next year’s 100th running of the race. “But I had so much fun racing up there the other day. Once you get to the top, you are like, ‘Man, it’s worth it.’ But the effort it takes to do that one run for the race is pretty big. We’ll see. I kind of told my wife that would be it.”
Racing is few and far between for Dallenbach these days, especially since the onset of the pandemic. However, his main meal ticket remains his stunt car driving, a career that has led to work in feature films such as Fast & Furious (2009) and Ford v Ferrari (2019).
His family still runs the Dallenbach Ranch, located on Frying Pan Road outside Basalt, which is actually for sale. Dallenbach Sr. was part of the 2020 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America class, with that induction ceremony having been delayed to this coming September because of the pandemic.
“My dad is doing good. They are slowing down. Ranch is a lot of work,” Paul Dallenbach said. “Just enjoying the summer that we lost last year. Can’t really complain too much.”
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Former race-car driver, current Lewis Cellars winemaker Randy Lewis hosts Aspen dinner alongside chef Byron Gomez as part of the “Aspen Summer Supper Club Series” at 7908.